SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah's congressional delegation have introduced a bill that seeks to get more water into the Great Salt Lake.
The bill could include a pipeline to get more water into the shrinking lake. FOX 13 News first reported last week the Great Salt Lake dropped to a new historic low of 4,190.2 feet. Its dramatic decline since the 1800s is a result of water diversion, drought and climate change.
Sen. Mitt Romney introduced the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act in the Senate on Thursday. Congressmen Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
"Utah’s iconic Great Salt Lake is currently at the lowest levels ever recorded—for the second time in less than a year," Sen. Romney said in a statement announcing the bill. "It is incumbent on us to take action now which will preserve and protect this critical body of water for many generations to come. By authorizing a feasibility study on addressing the historic drought conditions of the Great Salt Lake, this legislation complements and elevates the work already being done by the state of Utah to develop a permanent solution to save our Great Salt Lake."
The bill spends $10 million on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor and assess water availability and conditions of saline lakes in the Great Basin region. It also authorizes a study to address drought conditions in the Great Salt Lake "including pipelines, coastal desalination plants, and canal reinforcement—capable of redirecting water sources and necessary permitting to redirect water sources across state borders," Sen. Romney's office said.
The idea of a pipeline from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Salt Lake was recently proposed by the Utah State Legislature's Water Development Commission. The practicality of such an idea has been questioned with environmental groups saying water conservation will do more and sooner.
In a series of posts on Twitter, the environmental group Save Our Great Salt Lake called the pipeline idea "asinine."
"The Great Salt Lake is synonymous with the Beehive State,” Rep. Stewart said in a statement. "And it’s our responsibility to ensure this staple of our community is maintained, preserved, and protected for the people of Utah."
This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake—and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.